• FTSE 100 index closes 8 points up
  • Sterling up against the US dollar
  • Hargreaves Lansdown top Footsie gainer

5.05pm: FTSE closes up

FTSE 100 index closed Tuesday marginally ahead after the EU found a compromise and agreed a €750 billion rescue package.

Britain’s blue-chip benchmark finished the day up around eight points, or 0.13%, at 6,268, having been as high as 6,315 earlier.

Midcap cousin FTSE 250 also gained ground, up almost 116 at 17,501.

“Stocks are off the highs of the session, probably because traders felt that some sort of a compromise was always going to be achieved in the end. Besides, the EU is not known to move quickly, so the funds might not be deployed for months,” noted market analyst David Madden, at London-based CMC Markets.

Gold continues its glittering run with the price of  a troy ounce adding US$24.80 to stand at US$1,842.20, up 1.36%.

US and Canada 4pm/11 EST

Wall Street shares were mixed in early trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added over 318 points at 26,999. The broader-based S&P 500 index gained over 18 points at 3,270 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq shed around 46 points at 10,720 after a record run yesterday. In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite index added over 85 at 16,269.

Proactive North America headlines:

BetterLife Pharma (OTCQB:BETRF) (CSE:BETR) encouraged by results of UK biotech’s trial of interferon inhalation treatment for coronavirus

Atlas Engineered Products (CVE:AEP) (OTCMKTS:APEUF) closes acquisition of Trusstem Industries in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland region

GlobeX Data (CSE:SWIS) (OTCQB:SWISF) gets set to launch Sekur suite of encrypted messaging and email solutions in the US

Algernon Pharma (CSE:AGN) (OTCQB:AGNPF) says University of Texas study identifies Ifenprodil as one of several possible drug candidate to treat coronavirus

CytoDyn Inc (OTCQB:CYDY) claims promising safety data from Phase 2 coronavirus trial of its drug leronlimab

Lexaria Bioscience Corp (OTCQX:LXRP)(CSE:LXX))  files application with senior US stock exchange to request an uplisting of its common stock

Aurania Resources Ltd (CVE:ARU) (OTCQB:AUIAF) finds more high grade copper-silver at its project in the foothills of the Andes

Ximen Mining Corp (CVE:XIM) (OTCQB:XXMMF) making good progress towards production of first gold Dore bar from its Kenville project

Byrna Technologies Inc (OTCQB:BYRN) (CSE:BYRN) posts record quarterly revenue of $1.2 million, sees three-month backlog for security devices

Globex Mining Enterprises Inc (TSX:GMX) OTCMKTS:GLBXF) sells claims to Troilus Gold Corp and bolsters royalty portfolio as it updates on activity

3.55pm: Sterling tears it up on foreign exchange markets

London’s index of leading shares has contrived to fall into the red as sterling catches fire on foreign exchange markets.

The FTSE 10 was down 4 points (0.1%) at 6,257 but the FTSE 250, which is far less bothered about a strong exchange rate, remained firmly in positive territory, up 84 points (0.5%) at 17,470.

On foreign exchange markets, the pound was up by three-quarters of a cent against the US dollar and more than a third of a cent dearer in euro terms.

The FTSE 250 was led higher by Trainline PLC (LON:TRN), which was up 12% at 447p after announcing the appointment of a chief operating officer.

The market gave a rapturous welcome to Jody Ford, who was previously the chief executive officer of Photobox Group, before which he spent 10 years at eBay.

Midatech Pharma PLC (LON:MTPH, NASDAQ:MTP), up 148% to 52p, was the top riser in London after unveiling a new research collaboration.

The drug delivery technology company has entered into a research collaboration for the Q-Sphera platform with a European affiliate of an unnamed global pharmaceutical company.

2.45pm: US indices sharply higher

US indices opened sharply higher, with the Dow Jones surging 273 points to 26,953 and the S&P 500 rising 19 points to 3,270.

In London, early enthusiasm has waned a bit, with the FTSE 100 up just 22 points (0.4%) at 6,283.

1.45pm: Gold hits nine-year high

US indices are set for a firm start, picking up the baton from European markets, which have been buoyed by the EU rescue fund deal.

Spread betting quotes indicate the Dow Jones index will open at around 26,895, up 214 points, while the S&P 500 is seen rising 23 points to 3,275.

Meanwhile, the price of gold climbed to a nine-year high today, which seems counter-intuitive when equity markets are rising so strongly.

The front-month contract for the yellow metal was up US$24.50 to US$1,840.40 an ounce on futures markets.

“Gold’s path to record-high territory remains likely as more stimulus will be unveiled by the US shortly, Presidential election uncertainty will grow, and expectations the coronavirus will re-emerge in the fall [autumn],” said OANDA’s Edward Moya, offering one explanation for gold’s lustre.

READ The gold-silver ratio narrows, providing boosts to companies like Fresnillo and Alien Metals

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 19 points (0.3%) at 6,281.

12.05pm: Public sector finances recover a little in June

Somewhat lost in the excitement over the Eufinancial aid package has been the update on public sector finances in the UK.

Admittedly, the subject is not the most exciting in normal times but these are not normal times as evidenced by the borrowing (public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks, PSNB ex) figure in June 2020, which was estimated to have been £35.5bn.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) helpfully points out this is roughly five times (or £28.3bn more) than in June 2019 and the third-highest borrowing in any month since records began in 1993.

Borrowing in the first quarter of this financial year is estimated to have been £127.9bn, £103.9bn more than in the same period last year and the highest borrowing in any April to June period on record.

Believe it or not, this means the UK’s public sector deficit in June was “less dire”, according to Berenberg’s Kalum Pickering.

“The UK’s public sector deficit fell by a fifth in June relative to May as the economic recovery from the COVID-19 mega-recession gained some momentum and public spending declined,” Pickering said.

“The data are consistent with the general picture suggested by high-frequency data, surveys and monthly activity indicators for key sectors such as retail, production and housing which show that the downturn probably bottomed-out in early-May. The recovery then started to gain some steam from mid-June onwards, accelerating materially when non-essential retailers were allowed to open in England on 15 June,” Berenberg’s economist explained.

“Despite these positive developments, public borrowing in June remained the third-highest ever for a single month, though. The still dire state of public finances shows that the UK economy is operating well below its pre-Covid level. By comparison, the government had run a small surplus in January and February before the pandemic struck,” he observed.

The FTSE 100 was up 34 points at 6,296.

11.30am: Banks and aerospace stocks lead the advance

The second half of the morning has seen the Footsie consolidate early gains, as traders continue to mull over the EU’s €1,074bn financial package.

The FTSE 100 was up 43 points (0.7%) at 6,304, with banks and aerospace-related stocks doing much of the heavy lifting.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG), up 4.9% at 221.4p, was the top blue-chip performer while aeroplane engine maker and servicer Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.), up 5.5% at 279.3p, was the next on the runway.

Banks also received a boost from the EU leaders’ agreement, with rises of more than 3% for Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN), Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (LON:RBS), Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) and HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA).

“EU leaders finally reached what looked impossible at times: agreement on a EUR 1.074 trillion next seven-year EU budget as well as a EUR750bn European recovery fund, consisting of EUR390bn in grants and EUR360bn in loans. In order to engineer consensus, Council President Michel repeatedly adjusted (downsized) his original proposal to meet the demands of frugal members,” observed Deutche Bank.

“The EUR390bn grants facility agreed is a significant cut compared to the EUR500bn called for by France and Germany, but the share of grants in the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) was slightly increased to EUR312.5bn,” the bank added.

9.55am: EU recovery package provides a spark

Despite the weakness of miners and housebuilders, the mood remains mildly EUphoric.

The FTSE 100 was up 42 points (0.7%) at 6,304 after a €750bn coronavirus recovery package was agreed by EU leaders.

“The determination shown by Germany, France and Italy to work together on an ambitious recovery programme sends a strong signal and reduces the risk of a eurozone breakdown,” suggested Quentin Fitzsimmons, a portfolio manager at T Rowe Price.

“There is now a widely-held view the euro will strengthen, as most signals – economic and political – are pointing in the same direction but it is important to remember markets rarely react as planned,” Fitzsimmons said.

ING noted that although the sterling exchange rate reacted positively yesterday to news of the deal, it reckons the UK currency “should remain a laggard” among European currencies this summer as a result of the uncertainty caused by the Brexit negotiations.

“Note that we don’t expect any real progress in negotiations this summer and look for the process to drag on into the late third quarter and early fourth quarter of this year. Also, as discussed previously, GBP [sterling] sensitivity to risk appetite has changed since the Brexit referendum, with sterling suffering disproportionately more in falling markets than it benefits from rising markets,” Petr Krpata, a foreign-exchange strategist at ING said.

Bookie GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC), down 7.9% at 803.4p after it was announced that the UK tax authorities are having a butcher’s at the sale of its Turkish operation, remains the biggest blue-chip faller but investors are also showing little enthusiasm for mining giants BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP) and Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO), which are down 1.7% and 0.7% respectively – the former after its fiscal fourth-quarter production update.

READ BHP keeps eyes on China as guidance tweaked for 2021

Housebuilders such as Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN), Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV), Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) and Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) are also getting the elbow from investors, with falls of between 0.8% and 1.9%.

8.50am: Positive start to Tuesday

The FTSE 100 made a confident start to proceedings after EU leaders finally agreed a €750bn bail-out deal of grants and loans after four days of wrangling.

The UK index of blue-chip stocks opened 35 points higher at 6,296.05.

The split was between those in the most urgent need of help and countries whose main concern was the cost of the intervention – the biggest joint borrowing ever agreed by the EU.

“While markets have reacted positively to the prospect that some form of deal will be agreed … it will still need to be approved by all other EU member parliaments over the coming weeks,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

“This will mean any funds are unlikely to be available until the beginning of next year at the earliest, and even if all the funds are made available, the money will be nowhere near enough to compensate for the billions of euros of lost tax revenue, that has pushed southern European countries even deeper into their fiscal black holes.”

The rising gold price, which now sits at US$1,822 an ounce and is set to hit US$2,000 by the year-end according to Citi, lifted precious metals stocks. Fresnillo (LON:FRES), the Mexican silver prospector, was up 2.7% early on.

On the slide was GVC (LON:GVC), the Ladbrokes and Coral owner, which is being probed by the UK tax authorities over the sale of its Turkish operation. The shares dropped 9%.

Among the smaller stocks, pharma services group Ergomed (LON:ERGO) stood out after it said full-year earnings would be materially ahead of forecast. The shares surged 9%.

Not to be outdone, Collagen Solutions (LON:COS) shot up 13% after an upbeat trading statement.

Proactive news headlines:

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) and Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC (LON:CGNR) have formed a joint venture for the further development of the Longford Down Massif gold project in Ireland, hitherto held and worked solely by Conroy. Anglo Asian is to acquire up to a 55% interest in the project by investing in stages. The initial 17.5% will be earned by Anglo Asian investing €2mln in further exploration. Its interest will increase progressively to 55% if it develops the Clontibret gold deposit to mine construction-ready status.

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (LON:BMY) said it has traded ahead of expectations in the first four months of its current year as book sales surged despite disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. In an update for the four months to June 30, 2020, the publishing group reported that year-on-year sales in the period had risen 18% to £49.5mln, boosted by a 28% rise in consumer revenues to £31.5mln. The strongest region of growth was the US, where revenues expanded 38% in the period. The UK, meanwhile, increased 16% while Australia fell 1% and India declined by 70% due to the impact of government lockdowns.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR)(ASX:THR) has revealed the results of grade uranium and vanadium assay results from the Colorado mineral claims held by American Vanadium Pty Ltd, which it is in the process of acquiring. American Vanadium holds interests in uranium and vanadium focused projects in Colorado and Utah in the United States of America. These final high-grade uranium assays are from 13 outstanding samples deemed too radioactive for the original laboratory. The 13 assay results averaged 0.706% U3O8 and 1.36% V2O5. Four samples assayed 1.0% U3O8 or greater with a best uranium assay of 1.25% U3O8. Three samples assayed over 2% V2O5 with the best vanadium assay of 3.47% V2O5.

Ergomed PLC (LON:ERG) said it has made “exceptional progress” as it told investors underlying earnings (EBITDA) for the full-year would be “materially ahead of market expectations”. The group, which provides services to the pharma industry such as contract research and drug monitoring, gave the update after assessing its first-half performance – a period in which revenues grew by 14.8% to £40.4mln. Like-for-like service fee revenue was up 18% year-on-year in the first six months, while the order book expanded by 22% to £151.4mln in the period from January 1, 2020, providing “high visibility” for the remainder of the year “and beyond”. Debt-free, the company had £14.1mln in the bank as of June 30, 2020.

Collagen Solutions PLC (LON:COS) has said it is in “a strong position to deliver a successful financial year” after landing new contracts, according to chief executive Jamal Rushdy. The regenerative medicines specialist now has orders or contracted development milestones for the 2021 financial year of £4.3mln, or 108% of the sales in the last financial year. Providing the boost to the top line was a supply agreement with Novabone, announced on July 7, and a new supply agreement with an existing at larger volumes announced on July 15.

KRM22 PLC (LON:KRM) has said it “remains encouraged by its pipeline of opportunities” into the second half of its current year, adding that it expects to close agreements with two further tier one banks. In a trading update for the six months to June 30, 2020, the risk management software group said it “remains confident of meeting management expectations for the year” and that the approval its UK brokerage will add another £300,000 in annual recurring revenues (ARR) once complete. For the trading period covered, KRM22 said it had been impacted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic but had made progress with two new customer wins and cost and debt reduction. The company said the wins and cost reduction actions implemented had resulted in a “substantial reduction” in its adjusted (EBITDA) loss at the period end.

Alliance Pharma PLC (LON:APH) said it expects full-year revenue and underlying profit before tax to be in line with market expectations despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The healthcare group said the fall-out from COVID-19 had affected revenue in the first half of 2020, mainly in its prescription medicines business but sales of its consumer healthcare products have remained robust. Revenue for the first half of £65.3mln was down 7% on the £70.3mln seen in the same period of 2019. Free cash flow clocked in at £10.5mln, versus £14.5mln in the same period of 2019, with net debt reducing by £7mln to £52.2mln, and a further reduction expected in the second half of the year.

Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) has told investors that demand for in-game advertising has increased significantly in recent months amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a trading update for six months ended June 30, 2020, the video game-focused ad-tech firm said it landed advertising campaigns from the United States, mainland Europe and the UK. And, it added, a recent ‘Gold Standard’ certification by the Internet Advertising Bureau is opening up new opportunities. Over the six months, it ran eleven campaigns for major advertising agency groups. Through its emerging business model the company generated £275,000 of revenue, and, it ended June with some £5.9mln of cash.

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP), a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, has raised roughly £2.33mln through the issue of shares at 55p each. The share placing and retail offer via the PrimaryBid platform were “comfortably oversubscribed”, the company said. The intellectual property investor said it intends to use the funds raised to support the working capital needs of the business, including taking on more staff to increase the group’s capacity to provide commercialisation and development services for its portfolio companies.

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (LON:COPL) announced that its joint venture in Nigeria has extended the deadline to conclude documentation for a settlement in the dispute with its partner Essar Exploration & Production. An agreement was previously reached in principle and a new deadline of August 4, 2020, has now been set. “With the commercial terms settled in the agreement in principle, the legal language over a number of agreements has largely been agreed upon,” Arthur Millholland, COPL chief executive said in a statement.

88 Energy Ltd’s (LON:88E) quarterly activities report, released today, highlighted the group’s takeover of XCD Energy Plc (LON:XCD). In the report, which is regulatory in nature, the Alaska explorer detailed the soon-to-complete takeover among the features of the period ended June 30, 2020, along with April’s end to the Charlie exploration well – which was plugged and abandoned. 88 Energy is combining with Alaska exploration peer XCD to expand its footprint and prospect inventory. In early July the transaction was set to go to compulsory acquisition as a key shareholder acceptance threshold was passed.

Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (LON:CHAR) told investors that Larry Bottomley has stepped down from his position as chief executive and will leave the company with immediate effect. Adonis Pouroulis, a non-executive director and a founder of the business, will become acting chief executive and the management team will be strengthened with chief financial officer Julian Maurice-Williams and exploration director Duncan Wallace joining the board with immediate effect. The company noted that it has a strong cash position, with around US$9.6mln in the bank and no asset commitments, and, given the current lack of market appetite for exploration activity, it plans to evaluate other opportunities.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB), the leading publicly-traded cryptocurrency miner has announced the appointment of Dr Marco D’Attanasio as an independent non-executive director with immediate effect. The group said he and brings over 20 years experience in international capital markets, fund management as well as entrepreneurship in the technology sector. It noted that D’Attanasio is currently the chief investment officer at Hadron Capital, an investment management firm he co-founded based in London, which currently holds 13,548,000 ordinary shares in the company. Before co-founding Hadron Capital, D’Attanasio served as a managing director at the Royal Bank of Canada in London and was responsible for the Europe and Asia Relative Value Group, a 10-man proprietary trading unit based in London and Hong Kong. Peter Wall, chief executive of Argo commented: “We are excited to welcome Marco to the board as an independent director after a rigorous selection process in which he immediately stood out as an exceptional candidate. His broad experience in corporate finance and capital markets will benefit Argo as the company progresses its strategic objective to become one of the largest publicly-traded cryptocurrency mining companies.”

Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) has said that further to its announcements on April 30, 2020, and May 5, 2020, regarding cost-saving initiatives implemented by the company as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its intention to make up for the decrease in pay for all staff, including directors and those who have been furloughed, via the issue of new shares in the company, it will, as a result, issue 141,412 new ordinary shares at an issue price of 10p per share, to certain of the applicable staff. To continue to conserve working capital the company added, it will also issue 693,770 new ordinary shares at a price of 10p each to certain contractors in settlement of work completed.

Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE) said a general meeting (GM) of the company will be held on July 28, 2020, at 11.00am at the offices of Gateley Legal at Ship Canal House, 98 King St, Manchester M2 4WU. In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) measures imposed by the UK government, the board has taken into consideration the guidance and shareholders are therefore requested not to attend the GM as the company will not be able to allow entry to anyone seeking to attend in person. The meeting will be held with only two shareholder directors in attendance in person at the venue for quorum purposes to conduct the business of the meeting. Shareholders are instead invited to submit questions to the company, by no later than Monday, July 27, 2020, to inspired@almapr.co.uk with details of their name and shareholding, and the company will endeavour to respond to the key themes of the questions.

Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON: SLN), a leader in the discovery, development and delivery of novel RNA therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases, has announced that its management will be participating in the following three virtual conferences: William Blair Biotech Focus Conference on Thursday, August 6, 2020, at 2.00pm EDT (7pm BST) on a Panel: ‘30 Years of RNA-Targeted Therapies – Where Are We Now’; the BTIG Virtual Biotechnology Conference on Monday, August 10, 2020, at 9.30am EDT (2.30pm BST); and at the Canaccord 40th Annual Growth Conference on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 11.30am EDT (4.30pm BST). It noted that live webcasts of the BTIG Virtual Biotechnology Conference and the Canaccord Growth Conference can be accessed via the Investors section of the company’s website – www.silence-therapeutics.com – and an archived replay of the webcasts will be available for 60 days on the company’s website after the conference.

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) announced that, in line with the company’s investor communication programme, a recording of a shareholder Q&A session with Naheed Memon, CEO of Oracle, can be found on the company’s website at www.oraclepower.co.uk  

6.50am: Footsie called higher 

The FTSE 100 is expected to rebound on Tuesday after European leaders reached agreement on a €750bn pandemic recovery fund.

However, with the UK cutting its exposure to the bloc, London’s blue-chip index is only tipped by spread-betters to be on the fringes of the positive sentiment and climb around 27 points higher at open, having closed down 28 points at 6,261 on Monday.

Overnight, Wall Street’s main indices finished in the green but the Dow Jones Industrials Average was up less than 0.1% with the surging tech titans making sure the Nasdaq Composite was the star performer once again, jumping 2.5% to another record finish. The S&P 500 added 0.8%.

This was despite a continued surge in US coronavirus cases, mainly in the southern and western states, with the total edging closer to 3.8mln on Monday and the death toll topping 140,000.

Traders said the various positive vaccine developments helped sentiment, led by results from the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials.

Tuesday’s main data point is the UK balance sheet, with the Office for National Statistics showing how much amount extra borrowing the UK government undertook in June to keep the economic motor of the UK ticking over in response to the current coronavirus crisis.

In April we saw £47.8bn added to the national debt, followed by another £54.5bn in May as the UK treasury paid the wages of 8mln private sector employees on furlough.

“We’re expecting to see another big number today for the June numbers, as the costs of the furlough scheme continue to rack up, and UK borrowing moves above 100% of GDP for the first time since World War Two,” said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.

“At some point, the UK government will have to look at how they intend to pay for all of this, but for now with 2- and 5-year yields in negative territory, and 10-year yields below 0.2%, it isn’t something they need to be too concerned about right now.”

Around the markets:

  • Pound flat against the dollar at US$1.2663
  • Gold US$1,821.10 an ounce, up 0.2%
  • Brent crude US$43.38 a barrel, up 0.2%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Asia Pacific markets mostly gained today after investor sentiment was supported by positive news on the COVID-19 vaccine front.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.61% and South Korea’s Kospi index was up 1.34%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.56% but Chinese shares bucked the trend as Shanghai composite fell 0.22%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 surged 2.3% after the JobKeeper wage subsidy program was extended until March next year.


Proactive Australia news:

Graphex Mining Ltd (ASX:GPX) surged 123% after launching a fully underwritten pro-rata $2.3 million entitlement offer to fund exploration which will enable the company to earn-in to highly prospective gold projects in Mali.

Pantoro Ltd (ASX:PNR) is higher after receiving results of up to 8.1 metres at 67.29 g/t in maiden drilling at Sailfish Prospect on Lake Cowan within its Norseman Gold Project.

Anson Resources Ltd (ASX:ASN) has completed its share purchase plan (SPP) raising a total of A$1.045 million before costs.

Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) has executed a binding sale agreement with Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) relating to the sale of the company’s interests in the Mt Clement Gold Project in Western Australia for a total of $344,000.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) is seeking expressions of interest to advance commercialisation of its LieNA® lithium extraction technology, which improves the sustainability of lithium production.

Legend Mining Limited (ASX:LEG) has received new broad assay results that extend and strengthen the eastern geochemical footprint of the Mawson massive sulphide discovery within the Rockford Project in WA’s Fraser Range.

Bryah Resources Ltd (ASX:BYH) has completed 2,015 metres of reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Windalah and Mars gold prospects in the Bryah Basin of Western Australia and has detected off-hole anomaly responses in a down hole electromagnetic (EM) survey.

Pioneer Ltd’s (ASX:INR) (OTCMKTS:GSCCF) (FRA:4G1) key consideration for funding and strategic partnering of its world-class Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in the US is for the project to be ‘shovel-ready’ and permitted by the second quarter of 2021.